Time for round two!

A couple happy yogis packing up after Maria’s workshop.

Hey there!

My head has finally stopped spinning from Session 1. What an experience it was! We met so many amazing people, both within the Somali community and outside of it, and had a blast writing, making art, laughing together, eating great food, creating beautiful (wearable!) crafts, and more. Personally, I barely had time to reflect on it all, and I’m hoping that this time around, with Session 2 commencing, I’ll be able to take the time to update this blog more regularly.

I actually can’t quite believe that Session 2 is already starting. It’s really exciting, but it’s also daunting! We have so much learning and so many activities to pack into two short weeks—believe it or not, we’re actually upping the ante from Session 1 and squeezing in even more workshops this time around! It’s going to be wild and so much fun. The format for Session 2 has been slightly altered in order to reflect the fact that Session 2 participants are more or less all the same age, meaning that there’s room for mature, in-depth discussions on serious—and seriously engaging—topics. Instead of revolving exclusively around workshops, each day of Session 2 will be split into two main segments: the discussion segment and the workshop segment.

The discussion segments revolve around the idea that bright young high schoolers are ready to do some thinking and learning about topics they might not be directly exposed to in regular high school curriculum. We’re introducing them to ideas that will help continue their transformation into passionate, engaged citizens of the United States and of the world. Today we read and discussed a story from the book Somalis in Maine (eds. Huisman et al.) called “My First Glimpse” by Aisha Mohamed. This autobiographical story explores themes of gender and culture from the perspective of a tomboy girl growing up in Maine. As we reflected on the story we talked about the idea of “performing” identity, the centrality of the headscarf in people’s views on Muslim women, the ubiquity of gender imbalances in American and Somali culture, and more.

Our workshop today was the perfect way to wind down after such a heavy discussion: we got to do yoga! Maria Sanchez, a practitioner of Kirpalu yoga, came in and gave us an in-depth lesson, starting with a fascinating explanation of the origins and uses of Kripalu yoga before moving into a complete yoga session with a full warm-up followed by a succession of invigorating poses and finishing with a long, soothing cool-down and meditation. The girls agreed that it was a fun way to learn about the connections between their bodies, minds, and emotions, and they said they hoped Maria would come back another day!

I wish I could write more, but I need to get off to bed. I’ll end by saying that, all in all, day one of Session 2 was a resounding success. We can’t wait for tomorrow!

Sincerely,

Hannah

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